Gay-owned Radial Cafe closes flagship Candler Park location

Popular gay-owned restaurant Radial Cafe closed its Candler Park location after nearly two decades, just one week after closing down the eatery’s College Park spot.

A sign was posted on the restaurant’s entrance this week confirming the news.

“Thank you. We are grateful for the love, enthusiasm and patronage we have been shown over the years; however we regret that our restaurant is now closed permanently. Warm regards, management and staff of Radial Cafe,” the sign read.

The farm-to-table eatery’s second location in College Park closed May 30 after nearly a year in business. Owner Frank Bragg said at the time that the restaurant recorded a year of solid performance, but never quite made it to profitability. Bragg couldn't be reached for comment on Thursday about the second closure.

Bragg purchased Radial in 2010, taking the popular sandwich and breakfast diner on DeKalb Avenue in Candler Park and running with it. He has snagged several awards and added to the restaurant's green-star ratings for ecological sustainability. Bragg and Radial also support scores of LGBT organizations and events.

Bragg announced plans to expand the Radial Cafe brand and take its multi-cuisine menu and craft cocktails to College Park in November 2016. The restaurant filled a historic storefront built in 1910. It opened in June 2017.

Bragg told Project Q Atlanta last week that closing the College Park location would not impact Radial’s original location in Candler Park.

"We have a 19-year history of being a brand in the city and we hope to be there for many more years," he added.

Image courtesy Chanel Haley

UPDATE | Radial Cafe owner Frank Bragg posted the following note on the restaurant's Facebook page with details on the closing.

Normally, I am sitting in the office at one of the restaurants putting this newsletter together.  There is chatter from my staff, clinking silverware in the dining room, the roar of the dishwashing machine and the click and clack of the walk-in cooler opening and closing; there are knocks at the door looking for help and almost always someone saying, "Frank, such and such is here to see you".  Operating a restaurant is a non-stop affair!

Today is different, however.  There is no background restaurant noise - there is no action, no life.  I am writing you from my home where I am trying to put everything into perspective.

Sadly, I hate to tell you that both restaurants are now permanently closed.

Last week, I had no choice but to shutter the College Park location.  What a beautiful restaurant with so much potential!  Unfortunately, it was not keeping up financially.  Despite our best efforts, we were spending more than we were able to take in.

Closing College Park was supposed to help us keep Candler Park open.  For many months, we have "borrowed from Peter to pay Paul" to keep both properties afloat, but Candler Park's success was based on a plan with razor thin margins and less than a week after closing College Park, it was obvious that Candler Park had to be closed as well.

For over 19 years, the Radial Cafe brand has existed in the Atlanta market.  It was always been a great example of the "little engine that could".  Despite its small size, it had a big place in the hearts of many people in our community. When I bought the Candler Park restaurant in 2010, I was aware of the enormous responsibility I had to protect this brand and to grow it responsibly.

I am sure you can imagine, but I can't tell you how sad this day is for me.  I am sorry I let you down!  I am sorry I let down my team and the team-who-was-my-family.  There are vendors and strategic partners who have been let down and my own family and friends who have supported me so enthusiastically over the last 7-1/2 years.  

The best part of going to work everyday was to see the familiar faces who trusted us to take care of them day in and day out.  We took care of so many families and I am going to miss seeing "my kids" grow up.  I am going to miss hearing about vacations.  I am going to miss hearing about and participating in weddings and births and even deaths.  Radial Cafe was my home and we ran it that way.  My staff joked that we were a "yes-taurant" - always handling the simplest and sometimes craziest special requests, but that is how we were successful - sincerely and genuinely taking care of people!

We had issues and opportunities over the years, but I will always be very proud of our work.  Not only did we create a safe, fun and eclectic environment for people to come and enjoy great food and drink, but we were active in our community and made a difference with donations of time, treasure and talent.  We raised the bar operating as an environmentally responsible restaurant and set an example, which many other restaurants came to follow.  We won many awards for our food, service and ambience over the years and were always grateful for these nods from the critics and the fans!  I hope Radial Cafe will be remembered as a great restaurant and a great business.

Thank you for being there over the years.  Your encouragement, support, love, feedback, kicks in the pants and presence made such a difference!  I feel like we have been running this business together all these years and I am grateful for everything you have done for me and my team.

For more on Radial Cafe's history in LGBTQ Atlanta, see here, here, here and here.